Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Any advice for the Bulls? What do they do short-term and long-term?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Short-term, I’d encourage the Bulls to play mind games or whatever else it takes to minimize the debilitating mental effect of losing Rose for a second consecutive season. As in: Go one game at a time. Divide it in two (Rose’s impact really won’t be missed defensively). Then divvy up his FGAs and pretend he’s only out that night. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s the only way to survive another plugger season of smaller ambitions. Long term? Don’t give up on a former MVP who will be, after all, returning from a meniscus repair, not another ACL. Rose might need to dial down his explosiveness and cuts, adding more floor-bound game, but he still is likely to be an All-Star worth building around.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Short term, suck it up, get over the shock and get back to being the gritty bunch from last season. Going into next year, I’d commit to Luol Deng, move Carlos Boozer and try to find some offensive punch to put in the backcourt next to Rose when he returns. And, oh yes, settle whatever differences exist in the front office and make sure that Tom Thibodeau is content to continue coaching in Chicago for a long time.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Unless you can find a miracle and get a taker for Carlos Boozer‘s massive salary, buckle up and get ready to scrap, scrap, scrap. I just don’t know if this team can go through that mental grind again for an entire season. It’s so much to ask. This summer, Boozer can be amnestied and other moves made. I wouldn’t overreact right now and potentially make a regrettable move.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Keep doing what they’re doing. They have a star coach, some good players and very bad luck. It’s not like the Bulls are going to make a trade to replace Derrick Rose, by moving him (obviously) or bringing in a years-long replacement, so push on. Don’t tank. Don’t dump players they would not have otherwise. They will still defend at a very high level and they will still make the playoffs.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Remain flexible. If the right opportunity (one where you can gather assets) comes along, they should trade anybody on their roster not named Rose, Butler or Noah. But they also should be content with keeping their core intact and even bringing Luol Deng back next summer (at the right price). Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will all still be on the right side of 30 at the start of next season, while Rose, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic (who remains in Europe at the time) will be just 26, 25 and 23, respectively. Even if the Heat keep their Big Three together, their supporting cast is getting older, and the right pieces around the Bulls’ core would be enough to keep pace with Miami and Indiana.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Take the Thanksgiving holiday to step back and breathe a little bit before diving into anything. When the Bulls’ brain trust reconvenes, it’s time to seriously consider moving up the timetable on the roster reshuffling that was coming this summer anyway. They have the cloak of the Rose injury to help cover them in the event of a mistake. Whatever they do will be covered by that fact. Now is the time to explore all trade options for Luol Deng, who I’d shop to Oklahoma City for a package deal that includes Reggie Jackson, an ideal young point guard who can get Chicago through whatever rough patches lies ahead as D-Rose recovers. My short-term plan would be to tweak the supporting cast with more dynamic talent than what’s on hand at several positions. Long-term, you pray to Naismith and the rest of the basketball gods that Rose returns as at least some semblance of the MVP Bulls fans came to adore. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that there is tons of work to be done.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: What do they do now? They keep playing defense, defense, defense, and Thibs keeps screaming until his voice sounds like sandpaper, and more than anything else, they keep playing harder than their opponent is playing. We saw how far the Bulls can get on grit and hustle last season in the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference, a team with Noah, Deng, Butler, Boozer, Hinrich, Dunleavy and Gibson is at the very least a playoff team. Of course, Rose is that catalyst that makes them a title contender, and without him the expectations change. But that doesn’t mean this Bulls team can’t at least make some noise both in the regular and postseason. And as for long term, they wait for Rose to get back and get healthy. Not much else you can do.
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Short term: tanking is not an option, so keep what you have and try to make the playoffs like you did last year. Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, two key players for the Bulls who went to the second round last year, are gone, but the core is still intact. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah are great players. Long term: give Rose another chance, let Deng go and amnesty Boozer. You can rebuild with Rose, Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler while going after a top free agent. The Bulls can have a bright future.
Aldo Aviñante, NBA Philippines: If they can buy low, in terms of the contracts of their impending free agents, I think they should, because if (a big if) they are healthy they’re a legitimate contender for the throne. Their core has had only one crack. That complete lineup took them all the way to the East finals, and if they just rebuild again it might bite them in the future. But if they can get a little younger without yielding too much talent, they should also stay open to the possibility of retooling instead of overhauling the whole roster.